Happy New Year! I hope you are enjoying these first weeks of 2018.
Are you interested in starting a mindfulness meditation practice in the new year?
As I’ve seen from students in my mindfulness courses, one of the most pressing questions newbie meditators often ask is, “How do you find time to meditate?”
My answer is simple: I don’t believe you find the time. I believe you make the time.
In my experience, the best way to make the time to meditate is to integrate your meditation practice into a short morning ritual, one that you do right when you wake up. This ritual can include a short meditation and perhaps two other activities that you love.
Why is it so valuable to practice mindfulness in the morning? Because how you begin each day determines how the rest of your day will go.
Why I call this a ritual, not a routine
You probably already have a morning routine, where you get up, clean up, get ready for the day, and head out the door. What you may be missing is a morning ritual, which is something you do to set the stage for the day and start yourself off on a positive note.
If that sounds like a tall order, I get it. I have a toddler who wakes up early in the morning, so like most of you, I don’t have a lot of time to myself in the morning.
Still, I find that I can always make time for a mindful morning ritual that takes approximately 20 minutes. This ritual includes mindfulness meditation, yoga, and writing in my gratitude journal.
I have maintained a morning ritual for over three years now. The format of this ritual has changed over time, but it is hands down the most impactful thing I do in my entire day. When I’m feeling happy and content, I do my morning ritual. When I am feeling down, gloomy, and overwhelmed, I do my morning ritual.
In the process, I’ve learned that showing up for this ritual every day sets a strong – and vital – foundation for the rest of my day.
In fact, I now believe that the most important part of my day is my morning ritual.
Your morning ritual can be a special, sacred time for you to start the day nourished, calm, and focused.
Here are 3 steps to set up a morning ritual that sticks:
1. Start Simple
Don’t over-complicate it. Pick no more than two or three activities to include in your morning ritual.
Don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It is easy to get over-motivated and take on too much, but this often leads to burnout and isn’t always sustainable. You’ll have a better chance of developing a regular ritual if you start small.
2. Get Prepared
Set yourself up for success by carving out a lovely little nook or space that’s just for you. Fill this space with your morning ritual items—a meditation pillow, a yoga mat, a lovely journal—so everything you need is ready to go and it’s easy to get started.
It might be preferable for you to create this space in your bedroom, so you don’t have to leave the room. (I’ve found this works best for me.) You can do this even in a tiny room, like I do. I wake up and don’t even leave the bedroom. The yoga mat, meditation cushion, and journal are tucked in the corner for easy access.
3. Know Your Why
Make sure you want to do these things and that they are not just another to-do list item. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “If you know the why, you can live any how.” Knowing why creating a morning ritual is important to you can help you make it stick for years to come (regardless of what gets in your way).
Think about this for a few minutes and come up with a list of reasons why you want to make certain actions part of your morning. Don’t worry about all the things you “should” do. Instead, design your ritual around your own goals, desires, needs, and the things that motivate you. This is a ritual for you.
Start your new ritual this week. The only way to make your morning ritual a habit is to actually start doing it. Not next week, next month, or next year—but now.
This is your year to make self-care a priority. Your whole life will be better for it.